Do Birds Eat Chestnuts? (Eg. Parrots, Cockatiels & Is It Healthy?)

Last updated on November 8th, 2022

Do birds eat chestnuts? Many bird species including parrots, cockatiels, and wild birds consume varying quantities of nuts every day. Some even store them in their nests.

However, most birds do not have the ability to digest or process nuts properly. This means they will constantly pick at chestnuts in small amounts at regular intervals throughout the day.

Recently I placed a bird feeder in my backyard, attracting several unusual birds from the neighborhood.

But, while filling up the feeder, I always wonder whether I should put chestnuts, acorns, and other similar nuts left over from the recent harvest into it.

Of course, birds can eat nuts, but can they eat hard nuts like chestnuts? Many birds are very persistent creatures and despite this red-brown nut having a tough outer layer, the birds will constantly pick at it until crumbs are left.

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Are chestnuts healthy for birds?

But yes, many birds can eat chestnuts. They’re very nutritious. However, you need to be careful about feeding them. Chestnuts contain tannins which can cause digestive problems for some birds so it’s best to avoid giving them too many nuts when possible.

However, when chestnuts are fed in moderation, in addition to being delicious, are nutritious and packed with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids.

Additionally, birds having vibrantly colored and shiny feathers is one of the things we enjoy about them but very few people know that the good fats found in nuts contribute to that.

If you feed your pet bird nuts, it will probably become very dependent upon them, so you will need to closely monitor the consumption quantity of nuts being fed to your bird. 

Yet, some birds will not be able to eat chestnuts because of their size, which can cause them to choke.

Hence, it would help to avoid putting chestnuts in birdfeeders to prevent untoward incidents.

Besides the nut size, is there any other reason you should not give birds chestnuts?

Birds forage for nuts, especially during winter. However, when it comes to chestnuts, you should avoid giving them to the birds because the outer covering of the nut is quite hard, and most birds will not be able to break it to access the soft nut inside.

If the bird tries to eat the nut along with the outer shell, it can prove to be quite dangerous to the bird.

Therefore, you should altogether remove the shell, and only then can the bird eat the nut. But even then, chestnuts can be quite hard for most birds, especially the smaller birds.

But with those beaks, oftentimes birds will just hammer away at the chestnut when there are no other sources of food available.

Can you give cooked chestnuts to birds?

If you are planning on boiling the chestnuts and removing the shell, you might change the essential nature of the nut inside.

A boiled or roasted chestnut can be healthy for humans, but it is no longer suitable for birds. The toxins in the shell of the nut can get absorbed into the kernel.

This can prove to be harmful to the birds. Hence, even if you boil or roast the chestnuts, it is best that you avoid giving them to birds or putting them in the birdfeeder.

Do birds living in the wild eat chestnuts?

If you are thinking of the nature of some birds to hoard nuts and berries in holes of trees or their nests, then the first thing that you need to know is that birds do this intending to eat the food when there is a lack of suitable food, such as during winter.

However, they do not hoard chestnuts for several reasons. First, wild chestnuts, like horse chestnuts, are toxic; even humans can fall ill on consuming these.

Birds instinctively avoid these nuts, even if they become ripe and burst out of their spiny shells.

Is there any chestnut that you can feed birds?

Water chestnuts can be fed to birds. However, water chestnuts are not your typical chestnut, as these are aquatic vegetables.

These resemble a chestnut closely, and hence, these are called water chestnuts.

You can give some birds water chestnuts, but only after you have removed the skin and chopped the nut into small pieces.

Water chestnuts are quite hard and you need to cut these into small pieces so that the birds can easily chew these.

Which species of birds can eat water chestnuts?

Parrots and cockatoos can be given water chestnuts to eat occasionally. However, it would help if you carefully cut water chestnuts into small pieces and then give them to the birds.

You must ensure these are low in calories so the birds stay energized.

It will help if you remember that water chestnuts are a great source of antioxidants and other compounds for your parrot or cockatoo. Hence, you should give your pet bird a small amount as an occasional treat.

There are quite a lot of animals that like eating chestnuts and you can read more about them over there.

Further reading

Oxford Academic – Dispersal by Birds

Watchbird – Nuts are for the Birds

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